by Michael Sullivant, Director of Relational Networks, Life Model Works
Nothing moves my heart of love toward God more than discovering that He knew me, cared for me and reached out for me many times, long before I was fully ready to put my trust in and follow Jesus Christ as the Lord of my life. Jesus said it this way, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44a)
They say that hindsight is 20-20. Nowadays, I look back on my life and God’s Spirit reminds me, again and again, that Jesus is Immanuel, which means, “God with us”. In fact, I’ve joyfully discovered that we all can quite easily rehearse our histories … the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly … and welcome the Holy Spirit to retrospectively show us “where Jesus was when….” And, He will and He does!
I call Psalm 139 the Immanuel Psalm. It promotes a biblical view of life that inspires us to consider that God has always been close by us, involved with the details of our lives, and working through it all. He woos us to establish an interactive connection with each of us for our good and His honor … even in the middle of the worst situations we’ve encountered:
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:8-10
The Life Model is an idealized conception of how God intends for human life to be lived well from cradle to grave. Of course, not one of us lives out an ideal life in this broken world. However, the Life Model helps us see specific ways that such gaps were created in our growth and maturity pathway. Its insights help us learn how to cooperate with God, and the people He sends our way, to fill these “holes” in our way of being, our style of relating and how we go about our business in life. The Life Model practices have greatly accelerated and deepened my ongoing transformation into the image of Christ. I know this is true for many other people whom I have had the pleasure to meet and know.
When I was eight years old, I was suddenly and forcefully shamed for crying when I got my feelings hurt. It was very traumatic for me and the evil one was undoubtedly standing by to exploit the situation. I didn’t come to faith in Jesus until 10 years later. However, even after I gave my heart to God, the inner vow I made that day was still firmly in place. Can you guess what it was? Right! “I will never cry again!” And you know what? I didn’t. Not at 10, 15, 19 or 21 years old. Not at my beloved Grandfather’s funeral, even after I had already become a Christian leader on my college campus. I knew after my Papa’s funeral that I wasn’t free to shed tears, like one of my heroes, King David, did all through the Psalms. I prayed for this freedom.
It came in 1977 when I was 22. My new wife, Terri, was with me as I vulnerably opened up to her about my inability to cry. That fateful evening, God’s Spirit revealed to us my suppressed memory and hidden shame that had entered in and hardened me. We prayed for the evil vow to be broken and my tears flooded Terri’s 70’s granny dress!
Subsequently, Jesus made it clear to me that He was present in my front lawn that day I made such a powerful vow. In fact, He was promising then that this vow would not define the rest of my life and that He had a plan to bring more love and humility into my life, free my heart and give me a story to tell. Now you know it!
Learn more about how you can be transformed through the Life Model by joining us for a deeper dive into the life Model at our four hour Life Model seminar on March 12. Sign up at https://lifemodelworks.org/dive-deep-into-the-life-model-online-seminar/.